Current Activities

The Demonstration Phase for The Boise Commons is currently being launched. Activities already launched or under consideration or development include the following:

Survey of Youngest Voting-Age Citizens

With the cooperation of the Boise School District, The Boise Commons surveyed more than 1,300 high school seniors in October 2016 regarding their views on voting and civic participation. The results will provide the community with insight that may help inform the improvement of civic engagement, civic education, and perhaps even governance for the next generation. The report can be found in the Exhibit Hall.

Meeting the Other

This activity concept involves organizing conversations between people who hold very different viewpoints on public issues, in order to allow them to share their background and perspectives and gain an understanding of other people and their perspectives. Meetings would be chaperoned, at least initially, and could be held one-on-one or in small groups. If you may be interested in participating, please contact us.

Designing a Framework for Collaboration Among Neighborhood Associations

Following up on the State of the Boise Neighborhood Associations survey (see below), The Boise Commons has begun to help neighborhood association representatives design a framework for more effective collaboration between associations. An initial “summit” in November was attended by representatives of ten associations, followed by another in February 2017. Participants have defined the “What” – the kinds of things that they’d like to collaborate on – and the process is continuing into the “How”.

neighborhood association representatives
neighborhood association representatives

“State of the Boise Neighborhood Associations” Survey

This project was intended to produce the first clear picture of the strengths, needs, and scope of interest of Boise’s officially recognized neighborhood associations, based on the perspectives of those active with the associations and the larger communities that they serve. That picture can help identify areas of opportunity for enhancing the associations’ ability to serve neighborhoods. The final survey report can be downloaded in the Exhibit Hall.

Complementing this survey was the Boise Residents Neighborhood Engagement Survey, intended to help the community gain a better understanding of how residents understand, value, and view neighborhood-level organization, including their own neighborhoods’ associations.

Mock Constitutional Convention

Thomas Jefferson expressed the view that the U.S. Constitution should be re-written by each new generation. His rationale was that this would allow each generation to truly understand what it means to create such a document, and to take ownership of it rather than merely revere what others had created. Jefferson’s argument did not gain traction, but the idea of engaging new generations in thinking through how they would author a Constitution, or at least parts of it, is compelling from a civic educational standpoint.

The Mock Constitutional Convention is an event that we are hoping to organize among Boise area students in late 2017.

Civic Education Design

This project would involve the participatory design of a comprehensive and integrated civic education vision and program for area schools. Check back for updates on this project.

Finding Leverage in the Mess: Workshops on Dealing with Complexity in Public Issues

These experiential workshops, beginning in the spring of 2017, will introduce participants to the use of structured dialogue and the mapping of influence among the different factors contributing to a complex public issue, in order to help gain a deeper and more powerful understanding of that issue and a head start on addressing it. The first workshop may focus on our reliance and over-reliance on the automobile in the Treasure Valley.

Assumptionscope: Why We Accept Systems That We Don’t Completely Believe In: A Workshop on System Images & Barriers to Change

This workshop, to be offered beginning in 2017, will focus on the usually unexamined gap between the core assumptions, ideas, and values (images) that are inherent in our institutions and the core assumptions, ideas, and values that most people would actually embrace if asked to reflect on them. Barriers to noticing that tension, and barriers to changing systems’ images, will be explored. This activity is part of a larger Assumptionscope project being designed by The Boise Commons.

The Neighborhood Game Boise

The Neighborhood Game is a kind of scavenger hunt through which players have fun  learning about their neighborhood and meeting new people. Many folks had a great experience with the pilot-scale Neighborhood Game Boise in October 2014 and May 2016. Some examples of what people did are posted on the game’s Facebook page,

We extent thanks to the locally-owned businesses who donated prizes for the city-wide games. People can play at any time; see below for how.

How to Play

  1. Get your hands on the “Mission Sheet” here: The Neighborhood Game Mission Sheet. This is a list of activities that involve creating something, doing something with people, or finding something in the neighborhood.
  2. Alone or in small groups (a little more fun), go out into your neighborhood to complete as many of the activities on the list as you can.
  3. Players are encouraged to share photos and video from their game on the game’s Facebook page, The Neighborhood Game Boise.

It’s a very rewarding way to spend a few hours in your neighborhood.

The Empty Chair Project

The Empty Chair campaign is simple: we ask any local organization, agency, or corporation whose discussions have implications for future generations to set aside an empty chair in their meeting space, and to place upon that chair a placard (which we provide) stating: This empty chair represents future generations who are affected by what we say and do here today. The Empty Chair is a simple reminder to consider things in the long-term.

Empty Chair black on yellow

The Boise Commons booth at the Hyde Park Street Fair

Our booth at the North End’s annual Hyde Park Street Fair (September 16-18, 2016) featured several thought-provoking, interactive “exhibits” that engaged children and adults alike. It’s All Connected invited people to find connections among twelve different dimensions of community & society. Bicentennial Boise invited visitors to use the year 2063 as a focal point for envisioning what Boise should keep, leave behind, and add or become. An issue stacking activity involved visitors in thinking about which of six factors contributing to dependence on the automobile were more powerful versus less powerful. Finally, visitors were invited to draw on a poster the things that they love most about their neighborhood. We look forward to returning to the Hyde Park Street Fair in 2017.

booth with Jerome visitors making connections first one stacking